We get drinks. I know what’s coming. Karl always takes the same line of questioning. Twice I try to put him off, but it’s no good.
‘So, are you seeing any boys?’
I scratch my head. ‘Sort of – one.’
‘Who is he?’
‘You don’t know him. He’s kind of… random,’ I say, smiling. I love the fact no one knows him. It makes him seem exciting and exotic, as if he weren’t already those things.
‘OK. So it’s a guy I don’t know, and you’re, what, seeing him?’
‘Yes, sort of…’
‘I’m not quite sure what we’re doing. There are – er – logistical issues. He doesn’t live in London.‘
‘Where does he live?’
‘Not in London.’
‘You’re being very evasive.’
‘Are you lovers?’
This might be why.
‘No. How are we defining lovers? I think I know how we’re defining lovers, and no, I don’t think we are. We’re… dating. Is that OK?’
‘No. How many times have you seen him?’
‘Over how long?’
I look at my watch. ‘A… month and a half.’
‘OK. Are you sleeping together?’
‘I’m not answering that!’
‘OK so there’s this guy, who doesn’t live in London, and over the past month and a half, you’ve been on a few dates.’
Put like that, it seems like precious little.
‘Hi, I’m Jason.’
‘Sorry – hi Jason. Anna.’ We shake hands.
Karl and Jason resume their conversation. I don’t understand most of it and my expression probably says as much. As far as I can make out, they’re talking about some form of orgasmic meditation which Jason is into. I’m trying really hard to keep an open mind.
‘I just need to say hi to…’
It’s a masterclass in extricating yourself from a conversation. Karl wanders off, leaving me alone with Orgasmic Meditation.
I rack my brains. ‘So… what do you do?’ I say. ‘For work.’
We know what he does for play.
I’m expecting holistic therapist, poet, or something in that ball park.
‘I’m an IT consultant.’
I fight to keep a straight face. I can’t for the life of me think of something to say. He’d been talking earlier about the applications of meditation in everyday life, so I mumble something about how it must be useful at work.
‘Tell me about you,’ he says.
I cringe but tell him what I do.
‘Do you enjoy it?’
I don’t know why but I find myself answering honestly. Next thing I know he’s telling me how it’s all about attitude, how anything is possible, how language constructs reality and barriers will only keep me from living the life I want.
And I’m nodding, because I know all this.
‘I have to go,’ he says, taking out his phone, ‘but I’d really like to continue this conversation.’
I try not to stare. I mean, I know they say men are the more visual sex, but the stuff I’ve come out with in the last ten minutes – I can’t remember the last time I sounded like such a gimp!
‘We should exchange numbers.’
‘Err…’ I can’t remember my ‘politely decline to give a guy my number’ rap, perhaps because I don’t have one. So instead I say with a shrug, ‘You can have mine.’
Or not. A thought occurs to me.
‘I – I’m sort of seeing someone.’
‘Sort of seeing someone. That doesn’t count.’
I laugh. ‘Err..’
‘Do you feel happy and fulfilled by what you have with this guy?’
For the second time this evening, I’m being forced to confront the realities of my relationship with VP.
I can’t help laughing. ‘I’m not talking about that!’
He smiles, but doesn’t say anything.
I hadn’t meant to say it. Next thing I know, I’m reciting my number. It feels like a small betrayal.